JT on sidelines for trial match
COWBOYS five-eighth Johnathan Thurston is out of tonight's NRL trial against St George Illawarra at Barlow Park after failing to overcome a wrist injury sustained in last week's All Stars clash.
The representative star trained separately from the main group yesterday along with centre Brent Tate and fullback Matt Bowen, who are both recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.
Thurston's absence means Robert Lui and Ray Thompson will see more game time in playmaking roles alongside halfback Michael Morgan, who made the Cowboys No. 7 jersey his own towards the end of last season.
Cowboys coach Neil Henry admitted his side was without a lot of first-team experience out wide for the Dragons showdown but backed the club's emerging talent to step up.
"We're still depleted in the backline with Kane Linnett and Brent Tate and Ash Graham not here, Matty Bowen not playing and Johnathan not playing," he said.
"We're really down five starting backs from last year.
"But it'll be an opportunity for Curtis Rona, Kyle Feldt, Wayne Ulugia, Clint Greenshields and all those guys to step in and have a run and push their case."
While the Cowboys are missing some backline ammunition, the Townsville club's forward pack is locked and fully loaded.
International props James Tamou and the recently re-signed Matt Scott have made the trip north along with second-rowers Glenn Hall, Gavin Cooper, Dallas Johnson, Jason Taumalolo, Tariq Sims and Scott Bolton.
Henry will field his strongest pack at the start in the expectation the Dragons will do the same before rolling out the interchanges after 20 minutes.
"We'll look at that timeframe and then whether or not we get them back out there, (but) that might do them," Henry said.
"We've got another spare pack of forwards there anyway.
"We've actually got five front rowers here, so we got plenty to rotate around."
Kick-off today is at 7.30pm. Gates open at 4pm before the Northern Pride take on the Cowboys under-20s in the curtain-raiser at 5.30pm.
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Injured: Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston is out of tonight's big clash because of a wrist injury.